Sam Smith’s “Gloria” conveys messages of self-acceptance to listeners


Courtesy of Michael Bailey Gates

Sam Smith released “Gloria” on January 27, 2023.

Sam Smith has made a name for themself in the music industry through their emotional ballads such as “Stay With Me,” “Lay Me Down,” “Too Good At Goodbyes,” and “Fire On Fire.” However, Smith’s new album “Gloria,” released on January 22, 2023, shows a different side of them by embracing the pop genre with a variety of upbeat, empowering songs.

Throughout “Gloria,” Smith sings about finding self-love, being their authentic self, and accepting their imperfections. The album opens with “Love Me More,” where Smith opens up about their struggles dealing with their identity and their journey to learn to love who they are. This song builds to a steady pop tempo, bringing joy to listeners.

Smith’s message of realizing their worth and owning their flaws continues in the song “Perfect” featuring Jessie Reyez. “Perfect” begins to incorporate the R&B genre into the album through the beat and Reyez’s vocals. A standout on the album, “Gloria,” inspires listeners to proudly express their true selves to the world. A choir accompanies Smith’s vocals on this track, lending the song over to the gospel genre.

Smith taps into the hyper-pop genre through his song “I’m Not Here To Make Friends.” This fun, party anthem includes a fast-paced tempo that continues to evoke joy in listeners. “Gimme” featuring Koffee and Jessie Reyez also channels a very upbeat, pop style. Koffee’s feature infuses the reggae genre into the track, making the album feel more well-rounded.

“How To Cry” juxtaposes the energetic pop songs on “Gloria” with its slow tempo and raw emotion. In this song, Smith opens up about the difficulties of being in a relationship with someone who lacks vulnerability. They grapple with the knowledge that they should leave the relationship, a part of them still hoping that their partner can change. This track feels like an homage to Smith’s previous ballads. Unlike many of the songs on “Gloria,” “How To Cry” feels more organic instead of produced, having primarily an acoustic guitar to back up Smith’s vocals. Tracks like “No God,” “Lose You,” and “Six Shots” also express the idea of relationship struggles, however, they do so in an R&B and upbeat manner that feels more cohesive to the rest of the album.

Most notably, “Gloria” includes the song “Unholy” featuring Kim Petras. “Unholy” was released prior to the album on September 22, 2022, after going viral on TikTok. Upon its debut, the track reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually climbing to number one. “Unholy” incorporates an edgy, synth-pop style that is new to Smith’s discography. At the 2023 Grammys, “Unholy” won for the best pop duo or group performance, making history since Smith and Petras are the first nonbinary and transgender people to win in this category.

“Gloria” honors and empowers the LGBTQ+ community, setting it apart from many other recent pop albums. “Hurting Interlude” and “Dorothy’s Interlude” both sample speeches from Pride marches in New York to provide a brief insight into the community. In “Hurting Interlude,” a news anchor speaks about the isolation that members of the LGBTQ+ community feel, oftentimes not being able to openly express their feelings due to their identity. “Dorothy’s Interlude” includes words from Sylvia Rivera, an activist and drag queen, as she advocated for gay rights. The album closes with “Who We Love” featuring Ed Sheeran. This slow song encourages listeners to follow their hearts and not run from their feelings regardless of who they love. Smith and Sheeran empower and validate the LGBTQ+ community through this final track.

“Gloria” is a celebration of queer culture and individuality. This feel-good album lifts up those struggling with self-acceptance and their identity through its many inspirational songs. Smith’s important message makes “Gloria” a must-listen.